PNW Components Squad member, Mark Matthews, took a trip to Australia's island state of Tasmania in search of good dirt and MTB paradise. The rugged terrain of Tasmania is littered with all levels of trails and has over 100 miles of shuttle access trails between the towns of Derby and Maydena alone. Derby even plays host to a stop on the Enduro World Series.
Read the article below to follow along with Mark's travels and watch his POV footage to see why Tasmania should be on the "Must Ride" list for any mountain biker!
It’s 4pm on a Wednesday, I left home on a Monday afternoon and the 27-hour long journey from Vancouver Island to Tasmania is complete.
As I was flying into the Hobart airport and looking out the plane’s window, the beautiful landscapes made me almost forget how tired I was. The smell of eucalyptus hit me like a wall the second I walked out of the airport. I had travelled from one piece of mountain bike heaven to another. Both Tasmania and Vancouver Island have their similarities. For example: they are close in population, provide world-class riding, and are geographically unique in their own regard. That “island vibe” is also very prominent among Tasmanians.
Tasmania has always fascinated me in general. For a Canadian, it’s a mysterious, far-away place, full of unique wildlife and separated from the rest of the world. These are all reasons I wanted to visit, but I had also seen great content from Maydena Bike Park lately. The trails there would make any avid mountain biker in the Northern Hemisphere want to jump on a plane to escape winter. A few of my Canadian friends have been living down in Maydena and helping develop the park, so my interest was sky-high. I was looking for any excuse I could to experience the place.
Photos by Jasper Da Seymour
Before going to Maydena, I wanted to explore more of the island first. I was convinced to visit Derby after a handful of suggestions (it wasn’t even on my radar originally), and boy, am I ever glad I visited! When I first rolled into town I had zero plans, other than wanting to stay there for a few days. I dropped by a shop called Vertigo MTB and they welcomed me with open arms. Vertigo also does shuttles up the local trail network in town, so I hopped on a shuttle later that day and was grinning ear-to-ear after the first lap. Vertigo owner, Buck Gibson, was my driver and his fun-loving attitude kept the vibes high all afternoon. After that first day I quickly fell in love with the town.
The riding in Derby is incredible, I can easily see why this is such an exciting Enduro World Series stop. Not only that, but the riding community blew me away. This place is the perfect example of taking a ghost town and transforming it into a little mountain bike oasis. Riders are everywhere and the amount of trail development that has happened in the last few years is extremely impressive. In just a few years, mountain biking has saved this community. The Blue Derby Mountain Bike Project was backed by a $2.5 million Federal Government grant to develop a new industry and help the region recover from the collapse of the forestry industry. It's safe to say this was a huge success.
Feeling the flow on one of Derby's popular trails "Air Ya Garn"
Much like Tasmania, we are so blessed with amazing natural terrain on Vancouver Island, but we don’t have communities quite like Derby. Our local governments could learn a valuable lesson from the way they do things in Derby. The visit to this little town was eye-opening to see how much impact mountain biking can have on a community.
Photos by Simon McLaine
After a memorable few days in Derby, it was time to head south to the place I had been looking forward to for months; Maydena Bike Park. My idea of this place was not even close to the real thing. I knew it was going to be good riding, but the scale of it blew me away. It has over 800m of elevation and 30+ trails open for riding, with a further 65km of trails under development. I couldn’t believe it! This is bigger than most bike parks in Canada. And every single one of the trails is very well-built.
Maydena Bike Park is an epic mix of flow trails and steep technical lines. It's a very full-on mountain and much steeper than I expected.
The trail ratings here are pretty next level! This one (above) is called "Colour Blind" and it's considered a blue on the mountain. It's no wonder all the local kids I met here are so gnarly.
The best way to summarize my trip to Tasmania: a truly eye-opening experience. I’m fairly certain this visit was the first of many.